Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Thurs 12/14 - Rise of LSAT Alternatives, Elon vs. the SEC, Michael Cohen Nonsense Citations, and Sonos Prevails Over Google for Importation of Speakers

Legal News for Thurs 12/14 - Rise of LSAT Alternatives, Elon vs. the SEC, Michael Cohen Nonsense Citations, and Sonos Prevails Over Google for Importation of Speakers

Law schools embracing LSAT alternatives, Elon vs. the SEC rolls on, Cohen has to explain nonsense citations in a motion and Sonos prevails over Google’s attempt to stop smart speaker importation.

Students being tortured by the LSAT, pencil sketch.

This Day in Legal History: Alabama Admitted as 22nd State

On this day in legal history, December 14 marks a significant milestone for the state of Alabama and the United States. On December 14, 1819, Alabama was formally admitted as the twenty-second state in the Union. This momentous event came after a period of rapid growth and settlement in the region, which was initially part of the Mississippi Territory. 

The admission of Alabama into the Union was not just a geographic expansion; it was a significant legal and political event. It reflected the ongoing debates and complexities of American federalism, state sovereignty, and the balance of power between the northern and southern states. The Constitution of Alabama, first adopted in 1819, laid the foundation for the state's legal and governmental structure, embodying principles of democracy and governance that were essential to the young nation.

The original Alabama Constitution, like many state constitutions of the era, was heavily influenced by the U.S. Constitution. It established a framework for state government, including executive, legislative, and judicial branches, while also reflecting the social and economic conditions of the time. For instance, it included provisions related to land ownership, state boundaries, and the rights of individuals, all crucial aspects of state governance and individual liberties.

Over the years, the Constitution of Alabama has undergone several revisions and amendments, reflecting the changing needs and values of the state's population. These changes have addressed issues such as civil rights, electoral processes, and the structure of state government, showing the dynamic nature of constitutional law within a state context.

The admission of Alabama as a state is not just a historical footnote; it represents a pivotal moment in the development of the United States' legal and political landscape. It highlights the evolving nature of statehood and federalism in American history and serves as a reminder of the complex legal heritage that has shaped the nation. By examining the Constitution of Alabama and its history, one gains insight into the broader narrative of state and national development in the United States.

A recent development in law school admissions has seen a growing number of institutions moving away from relying solely on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for student admissions. This shift is partly in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ban on race-conscious admissions, as law schools seek alternative methods to foster diversity in their student bodies.

Georgetown University Law Center and Washburn University School of Law have received approval from the American Bar Association (ABA) to admit some students without considering the LSAT. Additionally, 14 other law schools have been permitted to use the JD-Next program for admissions. This program involves an eight-week series of online legal courses, culminating in an exam. In total, 47 out of 197 ABA-accredited U.S. law schools are now cleared to use JD-Next this year.

The LSAT has been a traditional staple in law school admissions, but its role has been scrutinized due to concerns over potential biases and its impact on minority applicants. Critics argue that the LSAT poses a significant barrier to aspiring minority lawyers, citing that minority test-takers generally score lower than their white counterparts. A 2019 study highlighted this disparity, with average scores for Black LSAT takers at 142, compared to 153 for white and Asian test-takers. The Law School Admission Council, however, maintains that the LSAT is the best predictor of law school performance.

In response to the Supreme Court's ruling, law schools are exploring different ways to assess and admit diverse student groups without considering race. For instance, Georgetown plans to admit up to 10 students into its part-time evening program without standardized test scores, focusing instead on applicants' life and work experiences. Washburn Law’s program is targeted at Washburn University undergraduates with a minimum GPA requirement, offering guaranteed admission and using the LSAT only for merit aid decisions, not admissions.

This trend reflects a broader shift in college admissions, as institutions seek to adapt to legal changes and evolving perspectives on diversity and educational equity.

Law schools embrace LSAT alternatives after affirmative action ban | Reuters

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and the world's richest person, is set to confront the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a San Francisco court over his testimony regarding his takeover of Twitter. The SEC has sued Musk to compel him to provide further testimony as part of their investigation into his 2022 purchase of Twitter, which he later renamed X. The probe is focused on whether Musk adhered to legal requirements when filing paperwork about his Twitter stock purchases and if his statements about the deal were misleading.

This legal battle is the latest episode in a long-standing feud between Musk and the SEC, dating back to 2018. The SEC's interest in Musk's dealings with Twitter began in April 2022, when he first disclosed his stock purchases in the company. Although Musk has already provided documents and testified via videoconference for the SEC's investigation, the agency claims it has more questions following the receipt of new documents.

Musk's lawyers have called the SEC's actions harassment and argue that individual SEC attorneys lack the authority to issue subpoenas for testimony. In contrast, the SEC maintains that its officials have the legal right to seek additional testimony as investigations progress.

The upcoming court hearing, scheduled for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. PST, will see both sides presenting their arguments. The SEC must demonstrate that its probe is within its jurisdiction, follows procedural requirements, and that the sought evidence is relevant and material. Legal experts anticipate the judge may favor the SEC but could impose certain conditions.

The conflict between Musk and the SEC goes back to his 2018 "funding secured" tweet, leading to a settlement with the SEC and subsequent legal actions, including a shareholder lawsuit which Musk won. The billionaire's relationship with Twitter has been complex, starting with his initial declaration of being a passive stakeholder, followed by an attempted withdrawal from the $44 billion takeover deal, and culminating in his eventual acquisition of the platform in late October 2022 after legal pressure.

Elon Musk and SEC to face off in court over Twitter testimony

In a federal court in Manhattan, an attorney representing Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer, faced scrutiny for filing a motion seeking early termination of Cohen's supervised release. The motion contained citations to cases that were either irrelevant or entirely fabricated. The court ordered the attorney, David M. Schwartz, to explain these misleading citations by providing the actual cases or providing a written explanation by a specified date. 

Judge Jesse M. Furman expressed skepticism about the legitimacy of the citations. One of the references cited as a Second Circuit case was actually a decision from the Fourth Circuit, unrelated to supervised release. Another citation led to a decision from the Board of Veterans Appeals, completely unrelated to the case context. The third citation seemed to have no basis in reality at all.

Legal experts speculated that this might be a case of the attorney's misunderstanding or misrepresentation, possibly related to limitations in legal research tools. Schwartz faces possible monetary sanctions, but there's a possibility of more severe actions, such as referral to disciplinary authorities.

A new attorney, E. Danya Perry, who took over Cohen's representation, acknowledged the errors in the citations and couldn't verify the referenced case law upon conducting her own research. She informed the court about these issues, maintaining ethical transparency.

Perry, in her reply, mentioned different case law to support the motion for early termination of Cohen's release, expressing her belief in its merit. Judge Furman delayed judgment pending Schwartz's response to the order.

As of the report, Schwartz hadn't responded to requests for comment. The case, known as United States v. Cohen, awaits further clarification and submissions as ordered by the court.

Michael Cohen Lawyer Ordered to Explain Nonsense Case Citations

In a patent dispute between Sonos Inc. and Google LLC, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) rejected Google's attempt to halt the import of Sonos' smart speakers. The products in question, including Sonos One, Move, Roam, Arc, Beam, and Era 100 and 300, were accused by Google of infringing patents.The ITC declined to review a judge's decision that found no infringement of valid claims from three patents held by Google.

Judge Cameron Elliot's initial determination in September stated that Sonos hadn't violated US import laws as the claims it allegedly infringed upon were deemed invalid. Additionally, Google couldn't prove Sonos' infringement on another patent. Google sought a review of these findings, claiming errors in the judgment, but Sonos argued that Google failed to substantiate its grievances.

This marks the most recent development in an extensive and convoluted patent battle between these companies, characterized by numerous petitions submitted to the ITC. Amidst this legal tussle, an eight-figure jury verdict was overturned, and a judge criticized the tactics employed in this dispute, labeling them as representative of the most contentious aspects of patent litigation.

Sonos Beats Google Attempt to Block US Imports of Smart Speakers

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at